Category Archives: Globes

I Greet You Well! By Mike LAWRENCE

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All profits go direct to the TLC Appeal http://tlcappeal.org/

£14.99 from http://www.lewismasonic.co.uk/i-greet-you-well-.htm

 This book contains twelve easy to read lectures packed with all manner of Masonic facts and information. Read at home to establish a good Masonic knowledge base or present to the Lodge on nights when you are without a candidate. Time tested and performed many times by the author, these thought provoking, fascinating talks will definitely incite discussion as they explore many of our more popular subjects by explaining the origin of some of our traditions and exploding the myths and legends of others.

With over 60 illustrations and ranging from 20 to 25 minutes in duration, the lectures were primarily designed to suit Freemasons of all levels of understanding and rank.

With titles including: Stealing History – Surviving History – Those Twenty Nine Words – English Accepted Masonry versus Scottish Non-Operative Masonry and Why the Knights Templar were not the Founders or the Custodians of the Secrets of Freemasonry; there is something for everyone.

 

£14.99 from http://www.lewismasonic.co.uk/i-greet-you-well-.htm

 

All profits go direct to the TLC Appeal http://tlcappeal.org/

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Pillars and Columns within Freemasonry. Part Two of Two. By Mike Lawrence

Section six – Architectural Styles of the Pillars

The five orders of Architecture were identified as early as 1562, in a book by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, who wrote about classical architecture. The book identifies the five orders as Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite with each part subdivided into other parts, all illustrating the styles of the colonnade arcade, arcade with pedestal, individual pedestal, entablatures and capitals.

Joseph Gwilt in The Encyclopaedia of Architecture explains the term ‘order’, thus:

“An Order in architecture is a certain assemblage of parts subject to uniform established proportions, regulated by the office that each part has to perform”

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The origin of the five Orders are thus.

  • The Doric order originated on the mainland and western Greece and is the simplest of the orders.
  • The Ionic order came from eastern Greece and its origins are entwined with the little known, Aeolic order.
  • The Corinthian order is the most ornate of the Greek orders and is characterized by the slender fluted column with ornate capitals decorated with two rows of acanthus leaves and four scrolls.

It was the Romans that adapted all the Greek orders and  developed two other orders which were modifications of the Greek orders, but they were not named or formalised as  Tuscan and Composite,  until the Renaissance period. Therefore, the Tuscan order was a very plain design, with a plain shaft, and a simple capital, base, and frieze and the Composite order is a mixed order, combining the volutes of the Ionic with the leaves of the Corinthian order.

Section Seven – The Origins of Pillars

Prior to the discovery of the Arch, it was primitive man that discovered the fundamental building principle of the upright and lintel, that is, the use of two upright posts supporting a beam or lintel. This made it possible to add doorways and windows and is found in early buildings all over the world.

The Egyptians, seeing the principal of the post and lintel, translated it into great columns supporting entablatures. The Greeks following suit used the same to form for their classical colonnades in such buildings like the Parthenon. The Chinese adapted a roof structure of decreasing posts and lintels piled on top of each other to support wide eaves of their roofs The Japanese used post and lintels to form the gateways to their temples.

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The Temple at Karnak

Section eight – Ritual Anomalies

a) In the explanation of the Second-Degree Tracing Board we are told the following:

“Those Pillars were further adorned with two spherical balls on which were delineated maps of the celestial and terrestrial globes, pointing out Masonry Universal.”

I have three problems with this statement:

1)  In 1 Kings 7:41 we read that: “The two pillars, and the two bowls of the chapiters that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars;”. The Volume of Sacred Law explains that the “spherical balls” were in fact “bowls”.

2) The second issue is that there were maps of the celestial and terrestrial globes delineated on those balls. Of course, there were no known such maps when King Solomon’s Temple was build.

3) The third point is that Masonry at that time was not universal and did not exist.

b) When we speak of King Solomon’s Temple in the Second Degree, we refer to a Pillar that is situated on the right. This takes its rise from:

2 Chronicles 3:17 “And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.”

1 Kings 7:21 “And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.”

Both verses are taken from the King James Version.

The ritual goes on explain that the right-hand Pillar “…was so named after Jachin the Assistant High Priest who officiated at its dedication.” However, the fact remains that it was not named after him and he did not officiate at the dedication of the Temple.

c) From the Explanation of the Second Degree Tracing Board, we are told in relation to those two great pillars that, “They were formed hollow, the better to serve as archives to Masonry, for therein were deposited the constitutional rolls.”

As you know there was no Freemasonry (as the Lecture implies) in those days and certainly no Constitutional Rolls.

Which all goes to show, our Traditional History is not historically accurate, but written to highlight salient points of our discipline.

Section nine – Humour

I recall one evening when a well-established Past Master, was called upon to present a recently Raised Master Mason with his Grand Lodge Certificate.  As you are aware, there is a no formal ceremony for the presentation, however there are guidelines on specific details to be included.

The brother was received enthusiastically and proceeded to display his remarkable knowledge of the origin and design of the certificate. As usual he had us all spellbound and he proceeded to the section that explains the three pillars, he went on: “…the outstanding feature of the design is, as you will notice, three pillars, each with its corresponding base. The one in the centre, like the Worshipful Master’s pillar in the Lodge, is of the Ionic Order adopted by Masons as an emblem of Wisdom and has reference to Solomon, King of Israel, and his wisdom in building, completing and dedicating the Temple at Jerusalem to God’s service.

The pillar on the left, like that of the Senior Warden’s, is of the Doric Order, emblematical of strength, such as the strength of Hiram, King of Tyre in supporting King Solomon with men and material.

The right-hand pillar, like the pillar of the Junior Warden, is of the Corinthian Order, the emblem of beauty…” at that point the brother halted, looked to the South, directed his comments to the Junior Warden and remarked, “…although I don’t know what happened in Brother Jones case” and calmly continued the presentation.

Needless to say, a loud ripple of laughter when thriugh the Lodge.

Section ten – Conclusion

I do not pretend that these two articles are exhaustive, and I have no doubt that with further research one could find lots more information. I also cannot confirm whether there is an inference to the Kabbalah.

The usages, traditions and practices Freemasonry are taken from many cultures, however, from that point on they are referred to in the Masonic sense only, and not used to symbolise the same as their earlier use may have implied. They are employed to accentuate salient points of our discipline and do not refer, imply, or associate themselves with past cultures of civilizations.

This is why many have confused Freemasonry with earlier cultures and  practices, which has tended to give Freemasonry a much earlier origin, that it actually has.

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Pillars and Columns within Freemasonry. Part one of a two part article. By Bro. Michael Lawrence

I found a question on a Masonic site recently in relation to the three pillars that support the Lodge. This was the question:

“Is it true that the three pillars of Freemasonry and the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah are related?”

Followed by this illustration:

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There are several types of columns and pillars, referred to in Masonic teaching, here are some of the findings of my research.

Section One – The Pillars of Enoch

In Masonic lore, the outer Pillars of the Temple are often referred to as the “Pillars of Enoch”. Enoch, being aware that Adam predicted “that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence and quantity of water.” (Flavius Josephus Antiquities, 1.2:3) Therefore fearing the principles of the Liberal Arts and Sciences might be lost, his son Seth caused two pillars to be made, the one of brick, the other of stone, (various other documents refer to other materials being used) they inscribed their discoveries on them both, this was in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind. The story of the Pillars became enshrined in Masonic teachings through the second earliest Masonic MS.

“…knowing of that vengeance, that God would send, whether it should be by fire, or by water, the brethren had it not by a manner of a prophecy that God would send there, therefore they wrote their sciences on the two pillars of stone, and some men say that they wrote in the stones all the seven sciences, but as they had in their minds that a vengeance should come. And so it was that God sent vengeance so that there came such a flood that all the world was drowned, and all men were dead therein, save eight persons…and many years after this flood, as the chronicle telleth, these two pillars were found…” The Matthew Cooke Manuscript c.1450 (Modern Translation)

Section Two – The Pillars at the porch way or entrance to the Temple of King Solomon

In an article entitled, The History of the Two Pillars, W. L. Fawcette says:

“The tradition of the Freemasons in regard to the two pillars, which are a prominent emblem of their Craft, is, that they represent the pillars Jachin and Boaz, which Hiram of Tyre made for Solomon, and set one on either side of the entrance to the Temple, to commemorate the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night which guided the Israelite’s in their forty years wanderings in the wilderness.”

Our ritual explains in respect of the two Pillars:

“They were set up as a memorial to the children of Israel of that miraculous pillar of fire and cloud which had two wonderful effects. The fire gave light to the Israelite’s during their escape from their Egyptian bondage, and the cloud proved darkness to Pharaoh and his followers when they attempted to overtake them. King Solomon ordered them to be placed at the entrance of the Temple, as the most proper and conspicuous situation for the children of Israel to have the happy deliverance of their forefathers continually before their eyes in going to and returning from Divine worship”.

Whatever significance the Hebrews may have attached to these pillars, there is good reason for believing that they received the material emblem from the Tyrians at the time of the building of the Temple. The Scriptures give a detailed account of the dimensions and designs of the pillars, (2 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 3) but are silent as to their significance; and there is nothing in the whole Scriptural account of them to forbid the conclusion that the ideas symbolised by them were as much Tyrian as Jewish.

Tyre had been a rich and prosperous city for over two hundred years, when Solomon undertook the building of the Temple. The Tyrians had been skilled in architecture and other arts to a degree that implied a high state of mental culture, while the Hebrews were yet nomadic tribes living in tents. The tabernacle was only a tent, and in this first Hebrew endeavour to give it a more enduring structure of wood and stone, Solomon naturally appealed to the greater skill of the subjects of the friendly Hiram, King of Tyre.

When the Hebrews began to build the Temple, they ceased their wanderings, they became permanently established, and, as a memorial of this fact, they embodied in the architectural design of the Temple, a symbol which, by the Tyrians and many other nations descended from the ancient Aryan stock, was considered emblematic of a divine leadership that had conducted them to a new and permanent home; this was the true significance of the two pillars.

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Section Three – The symbol of the “broken column”

We learn that under the Hebrews, columns or pillars were used metaphorically to signify Princes or Nobles, as if they were the pillars of a state. In Psalm 6:3 we read, “If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do?” meaning in the original, “when the columns are overthrown, that is, when the firm supporters of what is right and good have perished.”

Isaiah 14:10 reads “…her (Egypt’s) columns are broken down, that is, the nobles of her state.”

Thus, in Freemasonry, the broken column, which is not that common in the English Masonic system, is the emblem of the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft. The use of the column or pillars as a monument erected over a tomb was a very ancient custom, and was a very significant symbol of the character and spirit of the person interred.

Section Four – The Pillars that support the Lodge

The Lodge is supported by three great pillars, which are called Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.

Wisdom, illustrated by the Ionic column and found at the Worship Masters station in the East, helps contrive and conduct us in all our undertakings.

Strength, illustrated by the Doric column and found at the Senior Wardens station in the West, helps support us in all our difficulties.

Beauty, illustrated by the Corinthian column and found at the Junior Wardens station in the South, helps adorn the inward man.

Therefore, the Universe is the Temple of the Deity whom we serve; Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty are about His throne as pillars of His works, for His Wisdom is infinite, His Strength omnipotent, and Beauty shines through the whole of the creation in symmetry and order.

The Pillars of the Porch in a Masonic temple

Section Five – The Names of the two great Pillars

You have heard the names of the two great Pillars that stood at the porch way or entrance of King Solomon’s Temple.

2 Chronicles 3:17 “And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.”

1 Kings 7:21 “And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.”

In Masonic teaching, we learn we learn that the import of both names being “In Strength” and “To Establish” respectively. This conforms to the writings of Flavius Josephus who wrote in the 1st Century A.D. that Boaz means “In Him Strength or In It Strength” and Jachin means “He Will establish or It will establish” (Antiquities of the Jews). Masonic teaching also advises us that when conjoined, the words mean “Stability”, for God said, “In strength I will establish this mine house to stand firm for ever”. However, nowhere in any version of the bible do we read God using these words. The nearest we can get to the phrase is found in 1 Chronicles, 17:12 which says:

“He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.”

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PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS – Part 4 of 4

PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS Part 4 of 4

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By

Harry Carr

 THREE PILLARS

Extracts from the modern Lecture on the First Tracing Board: Our Lodges are supported by three great pillars. They are called Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn, but as we have no noble orders in architecture known by the names of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, we refer them to the three most celebrated, which are, the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian.

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The problems relating to the furnishings of the lodge do not end with Solomon’s two pillars. As early as 1710 an entirely different set of three pillars makes its appearance in the catechisms and exposures. They appear for the first time in the Dumfries No 4 MS, which is dated about 1710:

  1. How many pillars is in your lodge?
  2. Three.
  3. What are these?
  4. Ye square the compass & ye Bible.

The three pillars do not appear again in the eleven versions of the catechisms between 1710 and 1730, but the question arises, with a new answer, in Prichard’s Masonry Dissected:

  1. What supports a Lodge?
  2. Three great Pillars.
  3. What are they called?
  4. Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.
  5. Why so?
  6. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn.

Almost identical questions appeared in the Wilkinson MS c1727, and in a whole series of English and European exposures throughout the eighteenth century, invariably with the same answer, “Three. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn”. But the descriptions of actual lodge furnishings in the early 1700s do not mention any sets of three, and it seems evident that these questions belong to a period long before there was any idea of turning them into actual pieces of furniture in the lodge room.

Early lodge inventories are too scarce to enable us to draw definite conclusions from the absence of references to any particular items of lodge furnishings or equipment. While it is fairly certain, therefore, that the early operative lodges were only sparsely furnished, it is evident, from surviving eighteenth‑century records that in the 1750s there were already a number of lodges reasonably well equipped.

A set of three pillars was mentioned in the records of the Nelson Lodge in 1757, and the Lodge of Relief, Bury, purchased a set of three pillars, for WM, SW and JW, in 1761. To this day, the ancient Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel), No l, now nearly 400 years old, uses a set of three pillars, each about three feet tall. The Master’s pillar stands on the Altar, almost in the centre of the Lodge; the other two stand on the floor at the right of the SW and JW respectively. (The three principal officers, there, do not have pedestals.)

Masonry Dissected remained the principal stabilising influence on English ritual until 1760, when a whole new series of English exposures began to appear, all displaying substantial expansion in the floor‑work of the ceremonies, and in their speculative interpretation. Three Distinct Knocks appeared in 1760, and J. & B. in 1762, claiming to expose respectively the rituals of the rival Grand Lodges, “Antients” and “Moderns”. Both of them now included several new questions and answers on the “Three great Pillars” agreeing that “they represent…The Master in the East…The Senior Warden in the West…[and] The Junior Warden in the South”, with identical full explanations of their individual duties in those positions.

It seems likely that these questions were originally intended only to mark the geographical positions of the pillars, but in that period of speculative development the explanations were almost inevitable.

THREE CANDLESTICKS

Apart from Prichard’s note in the 1730s on “large Candles placed on high Candlesticks”, the first evidence of a combination of these two sets of equipment (that I have been able to trace) is in the records of the Lodge of Felicity, No 58, founded in 1737, when the Lodge ordered “Three Candlesticks to be made according to the following orders Viz. 1 Dorrick, 1 Ionick, 1 Corrinthian and of Mahogany…”. In the Lodge inventory for Insurance in 1812 they had multiplied and were listed as “Six Large Candlesticks. Mahogany with brass mountings and nossils, carv’d of the three orders”. In 1739, the Old Dundee Lodge ordered a similar set, still in use today.

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The connection is perhaps not immediately obvious, but these were the architectural styles associated with the attributes of the three pillars belonging to the Master and Wardens, “Wisdom, Strength and Beauty”. The Masonic symbolism of the three pillars had been explained by Prichard in 1730, and it is almost certain that these two Lodges were putting his words into practical shape when they had their candlesticks made up in those three styles.

These two early examples may serve as a pointer to what was happening, but it was not yet general practice, and early evidence of their combined use is scarce. But we can trace the sets of three pillars from their first appearance in the ritual as a purely symbolical question, in which they support the Lodge, and are called “Wisdom, Strength and Beauty”. Later, they represent the three principal Officers, in the East, South, and West. From the time when they were being explained in this fashion, c1730 to 1760, it is fairly safe to assume that they were beginning to appear in the Drawings, Floor‑Cloths or Tracing Boards. We know, of course, that they appeared regularly in the later versions, but the general pattern of their evolution seems to indicate that they were almost certainly included in many of the early designs that have not survived.

In the 1750s, and the 1760s, we have definite evidence (meagre indeed), that sets of three pillars were already in use as furniture in several lodges, and this adds strong support to the view that they had formerly appeared in the Tracing Boards. When, towards the end of the eighteenth century, the lodge rooms and Masonic Halls were being furnished for frequent or continuous use, the three pillars became a regular part of the furnishings, occasionally in their own right, but more often as the ornamental bases for the three “lesser lights”, thus combining the two separate features into the one so frequently seen today.

THE GROWTH OF MASONIC SYMBOLISM

The growth in the number of symbols, as illustrated in the French exposures of the 1740s, and in the English versions of the 1760s, deserves some comment. In the Grand Lodge Museum there is a collection of painted metal templates, belonging apparently to several different sets. There are pillars with globes, a set of two small pillars without globes, and a separate set of three pillars. There is also a set of templates of “Chapiters and Globes”, i.e., headpieces only, clearly designed for adding the globes on to normal flat‑topped pillars.

All these, with many other symbols, were used in drawing the “designs” on the floor of the lodge. As early as 1737, when the “floor‑drawing” showed only “steps” and two pillars, it was a part of the Master’s duty to explain the “designs” to the candidate, immediately after he had taken the obligation. There appears to have been no set ritual for this purpose, and the explanations were doubtless given impromptu.

From 1742 onwards there is substantial evidence that the number of symbols had vastly increased, and this would seem to indicate a real expansion in the “explanations”, The Hernult Letter, 1737. See translation in Leics. L. of Research Reprints. No xiv.  Le Carechisme des Francs‑rnatons, 1742. and L’Ordre des Francs‑masons Trahi, 1745, and in the Frontispiece of a whole stream of English exposures that began to make their appearance from 1762 onwards. All three texts are reproduced in English translation in The Early French Exposures, Published by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge. No 2076. implying some sort of dissertation akin to the later “Lectures on the Tracing Boards”.

Many of these old symbols, which appear frequently on the later eighteenth‑century Tracing Boards and in contemporary engravings, etc, have now disappeared from our modern workings, among them the Trowel, Beehive, the Hour‑glass, etc, and it is interesting to notice that in the USA, where much of our late eighteenth‑century ritual has been preserved, these symbols, with many others, appear regularly on the Tracing Boards.

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In this brief essay, I have confined myself only to a few symbolised items’ of our present‑day furnishings whose origins are liable to be clouded because of standardisation, but there is a whole world of interest to be found in the remaining symbology of the Craft.

Extracts from the modern Lecture on the First Tracing Board: Our Lodges are supported by three great pillars. They are called Wisdom, Strength and Beauty. Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn, but as we have no noble orders in architecture known by the names of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, we refer them to the three most celebrated, which are, the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian.

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PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS – Part 3 of 4

PILLARS AND GLOBES, COLUMNS AND CANDLESTICKS Part 3 of 4

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By

Harry Carr

MAPS: MASONRY UNIVERSAL

The tradition that the globes on Solomon’s Pillars were covered with celestial and terrestrial maps is certainly post‑biblical, and appears to be a piece of eighteenth‑century embroidery to the ritual. We may wonder how this interest in earthly and heavenly maps arose, and there seems to be no sure answer. The early catechisms, 1700 to 1730, all indicate a growing interest in the subject, e.g.

  1. How high is your lodge?
  2. …it reaches to heaven…the material heavens and the starry firmament.
  3. How deep?
  4. …to the Centre of the Earth.

There are also the more frequent questions relating to the Sun, Moon and Master Mason, with subsequent variations and expansions. (See Knoop. Jones and Hamer. The Early Masonic Catechisms, 2nd edition, 1963, Sloane MS, 1700, p 48. Dumfries No 4 MS, 1710, p 62. And Prichard’s Masonry Dissected, 1730, p 162.) These questions may well be the first pointers towards the subsequent interest in maps, and the armillary sphere of 1745, noted above, carries the subject a stage further.

The Lodge Summons of the Old Dundee Lodge, dated c1750, showed three pillars, two of them surmounted by globes depicting maps of the world and the firmament. A certificate issued by the Lodge of Antiquity in 1777 displayed, inter alia, a similar pair of maps. The 1768 edition of J. and B. has an engraved frontispiece showing the furniture and symbols of the lodge, including two pillars surmounted by globes ‑ one with rather vague map markings, and the other clearly marked with stars. The various sets of geographical globes in pairs, described above (not “pillar‑globes”), all indicate a deep Masonic interest in the celestial and terrestrial globes during the eighteenth century.

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Preston, in his Illustrations of Masonry, 1775 edition, in the section dealing with the Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences, dwelt at some length on the globes and on the importance of astronomy and, of course, on the spiritual and moral lessons to be learned from them. All this seems to imply that the maps were beginning to appear at this time, in the verbal portions of the ritual.

The introduction of maps, “celestial and terrestrial”, led to a further development which eventually gave the Craft a phrase that has become a kind of hall‑mark of Freemasonry everywhere. The first hint of that expression appeared in l’Orde des Francs‑Magons Trahi, 1745, which added a new question to those passages in the catechism:

  1. And its depth?
  2. From the Surface of the Earth to the Centre.
  3. Why do you answer thus?
  4. To indicate, that Free‑Masons are spread all over the Earth, and all together they form nevertheless only one Lodge.

In 1760, Three Distinct Knocks (Antient’s ritual) altered the final answer very effectively:

  1. Why is your Lodge said to be from the Surface to the Centre of the Earth?
  2. Because that Masonry is Universal.

In 1762, J. & B. (Moderns’ ritual) gave the same answer, word for word. That is how we acquired the catchphrase “Masonry Universal”.

THE PILLARS AS ARCHIVES

The biblical accounts of the casting of the pillars make no mention of their being cast hollow, although this may be inferred from the fact that, if they had been solid, their removal from Zeradatha and their final erection at Jerusalem would have been a quite exceptional feat of engineering. Jeremiah 3 v. 21, states that they were formed hollow, the metal being cast to a thickness of ‘four‑fingers’, but there is no suggestion that this was done so that the pillars might serve as “armoires”, or containers of any kind, or that Solomon used them for, storing the constitutional Rolls.

Here again is a curious piece of eighteenth‑century “Masonic embroidery”, and it seems possible that this was an attempt to link the pillars of Solomon with the two earlier pillars upon which “all the sciences” had been preserved. The earliest Masonic note I have been able to find on the subject is extremely vague. In 1769, Wellins Calcott wrote in his Candid Disquisition, p 66: “…neither are the reasons why they were made hollow known to any but those who are acquainted with the arcana of the society…” 

This was undoubtedly intended to suggest that the hollow pillars were designed to serve some peculiarly Masonic purpose, but Calcott says nothing more on the subject, and I have been unable to trace any such reason for hollow pillars in eighteenth‑century Masonic ritual.

THREE LIGHTS: THREE PILLARS: THREE CANDLESTICKS

Seventeen Masonic documents have survived, dated from 1696 to 1730, and they provide the foundation for our study of the evolution of the ritual. The earliest of them is the Edinburgh Register House MS (ERH), dated 1696, with a valuable description of the two‑degree system of those days. The last of that series is Samuel Prichard’s Masonry Dissected (MD), which contains the oldest ritual of the three degrees, and the earliest version of the Hiramic legend. In all these early texts the ritual was mainly in the form of catechism, and we get some idea of its development during those thirty‑five years when we compare these two documents. The first contains fifteen questions and answers for the EA, and two for the “master or fellow‑craft”. Masonry Dissected has 155 Q and A in all, i.e. ninety‑two for the EA; thirty‑three for the FC; thirty for the MM.

THREE LIGHTS

Twelve of the oldest rituals contain a question on the “lights of the lodge”: “…Are there any lights in your lodge, yes three…”[ERH, 1696] The lights soon acquire a symbolic character, but originally they were probably candles or windows, with particular positions allocated to them, e.g. “NE, SW, and eastern passage”, or “SE, S, and SW”, etc., until we reach MD in 1730, which says the lights are three windows in the E, S and W and their purpose is “To light the Men to, at, and from their work”. MD distinguishes between symbolical lights and “fix’d lights”, explaining that the latter are “large Candles placed on high Candlesticks”.

Symbolically, several texts say that the lights represent, “the Master, Warden and fellow‑craft.” Four versions say “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Three others say twelve lights, “Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Sun, Moon, Master‑Mason, Square, Rule, Plum, Line, Mell, and Chisel”.  All these are of the period c1724‑26.

MD says “Sun, Moon and Master‑Mason” and after the question “Why so?” he answers “Sun to rule the Day, Moon the Night, and Master‑Mason his Lodge”. So we trace the lights from their first appearance in our ritual up to the point where they acquire their modern symbolism.

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